When Tony Chedrawee arrived at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and found no consulting club, he created one. When he wanted an internship with a United Nations commission in Lebanon, he applied for and received one, despite the fact that no such position was advertised. Over and over, he has forged his own path to success.
After graduating from the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer, he plans to channel this spirit into launching a business aimed at solving some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
“I’m trying to understand and solve the hurdles our society has to overcome for the world to be a livable place in 50 years,” Chedrawee said. “Agriculture, specifically livestock farming, is a massive sustainability problem.”
Current methods for farming protein, such as livestock farming, take up a large percentage of the Earth’s habitable land and contribute a significant amount of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. He’s working to launch his business, Novento Foods, which aims to reduce the waste and pollution associated with such methods by promoting entomophagy, the practice of eating insects.
Chedrawee is on a mission to help society overcome its fear of consuming insects. With over 2,000 species of edible insects in existence—all with their own tastes, textures, nutrients, and medical uses—there are many options for people to choose from, regardless of their dietary preferences, restrictions, and needs.
“It’s a whole area that hasn’t been fully explored yet,” he said. “We’ve known that these edible insects exist, but have only tried to farm two or three species industrially.”
Chedrawee’s business will focus both on educating people about the environmental benefits of farming insects for protein while also providing products for purchase that enable customers to easily incorporate entomophagy into their own diets, allowing them to receive the nutrition they need while actively contributing to a more sustainable world.
“I know people think it’s weird but people thought sushi was weird, people thought lobster was weird, and people thought snails were weird,” said Chedrawee. “I think worthwhile changes require a bit of audacity!”
A born entrepreneur, Chedrawee took full advantage of the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Rensselaer, such as the annual Rensselaer Business Model Competition and the biannual Change the World Challenge hosted by the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship. These opportunities ultimately led to the development of the concept and mission of Novento Foods.
“The best thing I got from Lally and RPI was a community that always pushed me forward and urged me to reach my highest potential,” Chedrawee said. “That community would not have been satisfied seeing me go through school apathetically.”